Zelengora is a remote mountain range with much to reward those with the adventurous spirit to discover its unique pleasures. It is located in eastern BiH around 2 and half hours drive from Sarajevo. Its eastern half (including the highest summit Bregoč) is part of Sutjeska National park. The area is characterised by dense mixed forests which creep up to weathered ridges capped by beautiful prairie style grasslands. These ridges seem to hold the eons of geological time in their mysterious forms.
The area contains some of the most unblemished nature of BiH. Bregoč summit (2029m) - the highest in Zelenagora -and the extremely remote Kotlaničko and Sirinkso Jezero/ Lakes are just some of the spectacular hiking destinations in these mountains,
If you are tackling the highest summit, Bregoč, the best approach is from Kalinovik to Orlovačko Jezero. The approach is decribed below. The mountains can also be approached from tracks that make their was from Tjentište
The main approach to these hikes, is from the M-18 Sarajevo-Foca highway which leaves Sarajevo past the international airport in the direction of Trnovo. Closer to the peaks the approach roads are unpaved and regularly used by logging vehicle, which leaves them muddy and uneven. A four by four vehicle is needed to approach both of these peaks ... and perhaps more importantly a slightly adventurous spirit.
1) On the M-18 Sarajevo to Foca highway, turn right (if coming from Sarajevo), at a junction around 15 km east of Trnovo, in the hamlet of Dobro Polje (Добро Поље - all signing is in cryllic!). The turning is signed to Kalinovik (Калиновик).
2) Follow this road for around 16 km, until you meet a junction - well before Kalinovik. Take a left, which is signed to Miljevina (Миљевина). The rоad is now no longer tarmaced.
3) Travel along this road for only 1.5 km, where you meet a road from Kalinovik. Continue straight on at this junction following the sign to the village of Čemerno (Чемерно).
4) After the turning, you pass through the village of Jelašca (Јелaщца).
5) 6 km after this turning is a right turn (43º27.307N, 018º30.013E). (Take this turning if you want to visit Velika Lelija)Continue straight on for Zelengora.
6) km further on is a crossing with a right turn and minor left turn. Continue straight on.
7) 9 km further, on a road that now significantly decreases in quality, ignore a left turn.
8) 3 km further, the road goes through a clearing. On your left is a steep peak, with cliffs just short of its summit (see photo 6.5). Here you will find a sharp left turn, with a small entrance sign for Sutjeska National Park (Национални Парк Сутјеска) (43º22.611N, 018º32.472E). Turn left here and follow the track for less than 1 km until you find a destroyed mountain hut on the start of the hike to the summit of Zelengora. (43º22.533N, 018º32.930E).
No red tape.
The area is free of minefields.
As in many parts of BiH, local hospitality provides a layer of red tape and procedure. Do not be surprised if you are invited/ forced to drink coffee and many shots of local brandy with park gaurds, and the few local inhabitants.
When To Climb
The grasslands are especially beautiful in spring and autumn. Summer can be quite hot and hiking a little suffocating. The area has significant falls of snow which increase the difficulty of any approach in winter.
Camping is allowed next to the destroyed mountain hut at Orlovačko Jezero. There is a rebuilt mountain hut just south of the turning to Orlovačko Jezero which can be hired by contacting Sutjeska National Park authorities (00 387 58 520 102, 00 387 58 520 102)
In Tijentiste is the Hotel Mladost (00 387 520 118).
Getting to the top....
The path is completely unmarked for large sections. Nonetheless the path goes over open grassland and those confident assessing their position based on topography will have no problems accessing this peak.
The path to Bregoč peak starts from the ruined mountain hut at Orlovačko Jezero reached using the approach above (43º22.533N, 018º32.930E).
1) Find the clearly marked path that continues the trajectory of the approach road. It passes a spring and sets off in a south-easterly direction.
2) After only around 500m the path splits in two; take the right turn to take a more southerly direction and move into a clear valley that opens up to your right and curves behind Stog peak. The red and white paint marks marking the path peter out, but clearly trodden ground continues to mark the path.
3) A new valley emerges to your left after around 1 km (20-30mins) of hiking. Take the branch in the path that enters this valley, moving in a southeasterly direction.
4) The steep valley soon ends at the foot of a rising ridge (43º 21.820N, 018º 33.077E) that leads to the summit of Bregoč. The summit is however best approached from the valley on the east/left side of this ridge. Contour around the ridge in front of you to enter the right side of this valley. The path is occasionally very faint or non-existent, but use your general orientation skills to contour around the ridge. Once in this valley, continue traversing along the side of it towards the head of the valley as the valley generally narrows. Follow for around 1.3 km in a general south easterly direction.
5) Soon you will find yourself next to some small lakes at the foot of the final approach to the summit (1 hour). The final approach is one long zigzag up the ridge to the right /south of the lake. It first makes its way up to the summit ridge in a southerly direction towards a prominent outcrop of rock, and then comes back in a northerly direction along the ridge to the summit of Bregoč (30-40mins).
Guide to Zelengora
Follow this link if you want to buy a hiking guide to Bosnia & Herzegovina, which includes walks in Zelengora.